vaping while driving uk

Vaping has surged in popularity in recent years as an alternative to smoking cigarettes. But motorists who vape while driving could face fines up to £2,000 if it impairs their vision on the road. Here’s what drivers need to know about vaping and obscured windscreens to avoid potentially dangerous situations and expensive penalties.

Vape Clouds Can Temporarily Obscure Driver Visibility

When vaping in a car, the exhaled vapor can create thick, dense clouds that fill up the interior and significantly reduce visibility out the windscreen and windows. This impaired view of the road and surroundings can persist for up to 10-15 seconds after each vape.

During those brief moments, key details like traffic lights, road signs, pedestrians, and other vehicles can be obscured from the driver’s sight. This creates hazardous conditions that increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and fatal crashes.

Obscured Windscreen Laws Can Mean Fines Up to £2,000

In the UK, any condition that severely impairs driver vision can be considered an offence under Section 41D of the Road Traffic Act 1988. This includes dirt on windows, frost or snow on windscreens, and also smoke or vape clouds.

If convicted under this law, vaping motorists face fines up to £1,000. But if an accident occurs due to the obscured view, it becomes “careless driving” under more serious laws. The penalties can then extend up to £2,000 fines, 3-9 penalty points, and even potential driving bans.

Pull Over If Needed to Vape – Don’t Drive Impaired

To avoid fines and dangerous driving conditions from vaping, motorists should:

  • Pull over safely – If needing to vape in the car, pull completely off the road to do so. Never vape when actively driving.
  • Roll down windows – Opening windows allows vapor to dissipate faster before driving.
  • Wait before driving – Take 10-15 seconds after vaping before operating the vehicle to allow vision to clear.
  • Limit vaping – Minimise vaping when driving long distances to prevent frequent impaired visibility.

Taking these simple precautions allows drivers to vape responsibly without putting themselves and others in harm’s way or incurring legal penalties.

Vaping While Driving Increases Accident Risks

Studies show vaping can impair key driving abilities including:

  • Vision – Vapor clouds block seeing roadway details clearly
  • Alertness – Nicotine can affect attentiveness similar to cellphone distraction
  • Reaction times – Diminished coordination and slower response to hazards

With multiple facets of safe driving compromised, choosing to vape behind the wheel significantly increases the chances of being involved in an accident.

More Public Awareness Needed of Vaping Driving Laws

Many regular vapers may be unaware their habit could be breaking obscured windscreen rules. Tracey Martin, Associate Director at International Drivers Association, said more education is needed around vaping laws:

“Most drivers understand it’s extremely dangerous and illegal to drive while impaired by alcohol. But there is less awareness about how other activities like vaping can also cause visual impairment and lead to fines. All motorists need to be sure they have full, unobstructed visibility when operating a vehicle.”


Vaping while driving can dangerously reduce visibility on the road, putting drivers and passengers at greater risk. Exhaled vape clouds that obscure windscreens can also lead to £2,000 fines under UK traffic laws. Drivers should always pull over before vaping and wait for cloudy vapor to fully dissipate before operating vehicles. Staying properly informed on driving regulations can help motorists avoid fines and potential accidents from impaired visibility caused by vaping habits.

Matthew Ma